The Art of the Classic Tied Roast
Yes, there really is a reason to tie a roast. It’s not done just for looks. When you tie a roast, you help to ensure it keeps a neat, compact round shape. That means it cooks more evenly instead of having that little dried out stump on one end or the other. No one likes eating the shriveled up, dried out, leather shoe end of a roast. Well, most people don’t, anyway.
Keeping in stuffing is another reason for tying. If you learn how to classic tie a roast, you can use the same technique to hold together stuffed roasts, chicken breasts, even stuffed fish filets. Just roll the meat around the stuffing and tie it up before baking, roasting, grilling, or broiling.
What Kind of Meat Should You Tie?
Most cooks think of pork or prime rib when you bring up the subject of tied meat. In reality, you can tie any kind of meat. It doesn’t have to be a roast. Any kind of loose, flattish cut of meat can benefit from tying. Standing rib roasts, rib eye and tenderloin roasts, as well as bone-in and shoulder roasts are some of the classics. However, boneless cutlets, fillets, and poultry breasts are good candidates as well.
String, Twine, What Do You Use?
You will need four or five feet of string for an average roast. Cotton butcher’s twine is the absolute best string to use for meat. It won’t leave little stringy pieces behind when you cut it away after cooking and it won’t chaff your skin as you tie. Cotton will shrink in the oven or roaster, so don’t tie it so tight that it cuts deep into the meat. You want to hold it in place, not pre-slice it as it cooks! Remember, firm not tight. The roast is not going to grow legs and run away.
Knot My Roast!
Classic tie methods use one continuous piece of string from one end of the roast to the other. Each time you wrap the string around the meat, you tie it with a square knot. You already know how to tie a square knot. If you’ve ever double knotted your shoelaces, you’ve tied a square knot. It’s easy. Tie the string like you do your shoe, then instead of making a bow, just tie it again. Bingo! You just made a square knot. Easy.
When you tie your roast, start at one end. Make sure to tuck any loose ends of meat under the roast. Position your first knot to keep these loose ends tucked. Tie the knots on the underside of the roast. They’ll stay better and no one has to see any mistakes you might have made. Keep the knots at roughly an inch or so apart.
Once you tie a knot, stretch the string down the meat and hold it in place with your thumb. Loop the string around the roast. Lift the piece you’re holding under your thumb, and tie another knot. When you’re done, the underside of your roast will look like a chain of knots. The top will look like bands.
If need be, save yourself some mess and frustration by practicing on a rolled kitchen towel first, until you have the process nailed.
So, what’s your first tied meat experiment going to be? Pork tenderloin? A standing rib roast? Some stuffed chicken breasts? A rack of lamb? Come on, be daring!
A few recipes to try: